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Alaskan cruise ship

North America

 
Alaska
Alaska is one of the only two states that are not bordered by another US state, Hawaii being the other. It is the only state that both is in North America and is not part of the 48 contiguous states; about 500 miles (800 km) of Canadian territory separate Alaska from Washington. Therefore, Alaska is an exclave of the United States that is part of the continental U.S. but is not part of the contiguous U.S. It is also the only mainland state whose capital city is accessible only via ship or air. There are no roads connecting Juneau to the rest of the state.
Background Information
Alaska was first inhabited by humans who came across the Bering Land Bridge. Eventually, Alaska became populated by the Inupiaq, Inuit and Yupik Eskimos, Aleuts, and a variety of American Indian groups. Most, if not all, of the pre-Columbian population of the Americas probably took this route and continued further south and east.

The first written accounts indicate that the first Europeans to reach Alaska came from Russia. Vitus Bering sailed east and saw Mt. St. Elias. The Russian-American Company hunted sea otters for their fur. The colony was never very profitable, because of the costs of transportation.

The news of the British North America Act, 1867, was nervously received in Washington, DC. It would create, on July 1, 1867, "one dominion under the name of Canada," and this led to expressions of "grave misgivings on the establishment of a monarchial state to the north" in what Canadians then called "the republic to the south." (See McNaughton's Short History of Canada.) U.S. Secretary of State William Seward thus urged, and the United States Senate thus approved, the treaty authorizing the purchase of Alaska from Imperial Russia for US$7,200,000 on 9 April 1867. The United States took possession and the American flag was raised over Alaska on 18 October, which is commemorated as Alaska Day.

Russia still used the Julian Calendar in 1867, and the world had not yet been divided into standard time zones - thus, there was no international date line, and the day began in the morning instead of starting at midnight. So, whereas the American day now ends with sunset in western Alaska, the Russian day - in those days - started with sunrise in 'eastern' Alaska. Thus, Friday, October 6, 1867, the day before the physical transfer of ownership, was followed by Friday, October 18, 1867 - which was Saturday, October 7, 1867 in Russia. The change in date was due to America bringing the Gregorian Calendar to Alaska, which the lack of change in day resulted from Alaska's shift from being the starting point of the Russian day to being the ending point of the American day.
Climate
Americans, who called Alaska "Seward's icebox" when it was first purchased from the Russians, were unaware of the variety of climatic conditions within its six topographic regions. Although minimum daily winter temperatures in the Arctic region and in the Brooks Range average 20F (29C) and the ground at Point Barrow is frozen permanently to 1,330 ft (405 m), summer maximum daily temperatures in the Alaskan lowlands average above 60F (16C) and have been known to exceed 90F (32C). The southeastern region is moderate, ranging from a daily average of 30F (1C) in January to 56F (13C) in July; the south-central zone has a similar summer range, but winters are somewhat harsher, especially in the interior. The Aleutian Islands have chilly, damp winters and rainy, foggy weather for most of the year; western Alaska is also rainy and cool. The all-time high for the state was 100F (38C), recorded at Ft. Yukon on 27 June 1915; the reading of 79.8F (62C), registered at Prospect Creek Camp in the northwestern part of the state on 23 January 1971, is the lowest temperature ever officially recorded in the US.

Juneau received an annual average precipitation of 58.3 in (148 cm), with 98.5 in (250 cm) of snowfall recorded at the airport there each year. The entire southeastern region of Alaska has a wide range of microclimates with varying levels of precipitation; Juneau's metropolitan area precipitation ranges from 40 in (102 cm) to over 100 in (254 cm) per year.
Chocolate moose
Alaskan landscape
Map of Alaska